North Vancouver Island Chipping Plant: A Successful Project for the Namgis First Nation

The Namgis First Nation traditional territory is located on the northeastern coast of Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, with over 500 members living in the Namgis territory. The Nation holds a variety of companies and joint ventures and is looking to create partnerships with companies to create sustainable and diverse economies, jobs, training, and revenue while preserving traditional values and principles. Atli Resources LP, wholly owned by the Namgis First Nation, was established in 2005. The forestry company’s main business is to manage the forest licenses held by the Namgis.

Early this year, Atli Resources LP acquired the assets of the Beaver Cove chipping operations from North Island Chipping Ltd., located on the traditional territory of the ‘Namgis First Nation. Together with Wahkash Contracting and Paper Excellence, Atli Resources LP formed a new business, Atli Chip Limited Partnership. The facility produces 300,000 to 400,000 m3 of wood chips for use in the pulp and paper industry. Built in 2003, the facility is designed to convert dry land sorted waste fibre and salvage logs into sellable wood chips. In May 2021, the facility loaded its first barge of wood chips to be transported to one of the Paper Excellence mills in Powell River, Port Mellon, Crofton, and Port Alberni. Paper Excellence is a partner of Atli Chip Limited Partnership and will receive all chip and hog produced by the facility.

The chip plant employs seven to ten people who live in Beaver Cove and the surrounding North Island communities.

“We are very excited to have such strong partners in this new business and that includes the employees working at the chipping facility. Over the past few weeks, the contributions and efforts of everyone has been outstanding. Our goal now is to increase the utilization and volumes of wood waste and pulp logs to grow the chip plant business for the benefit of the ‘Namgis First Nation and the surrounding communities.”

Doug Mosher, RPF, CEO of Atli Chip LP

“Paper Excellence is proud to be a part of the Atli Chip Limited Partnership. As a company, we understand the importance of being good neighbors and greatly value our relationships with Indigenous communities and their business ventures. This is an exciting opportunity to build mutually beneficial business partnerships and support community investment.”

Quinton Hayward, Chief Forester for Paper Excellence

“We are proud and excited for the opportunity to work with these partners. It’s partnerships like this one that build confidence in the forest industry by providing long-term job security in our rural communities.”

Dorian Uzzell, President of Wahkash Contracting

Collaboration with FPInnovations

Throughout the project, FPInnovations supported Atli Resources LP in compiling and evaluating the business development and planning of the acquisition of the operating assets from North Island Chipping Ltd. In joint sessions with the teams at Atli Resources LP, members of FPInnovations’ Indigenous Forestry Sector Technical Support Program developed multiple scenarios around the supply and operation of the facility.

In March 2021, FPInnovations and the British Columbia Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resources and Rural Development contributed $100,000 towards the purchase of the chipping plant. The final deal was closed shortly after.

Since then, FPInnovations and Atli Resources are working together to optimize the operations of the chipping facility along with the associated supply chain. Researchers developed a comprehensive fibre supply model, classifying fibre cost zones surrounding the plant using available inventory data from all tenures and private owned lands in the area to identify available volumes and costs of extraction. To ground proof the model, FPInnovations validated 1000 km of forest service roads on Northern Vancouver Island and is in the planning stage of conducting contractor diagnostics with salvage contractors to further update processing the transportation costs. A first diagnostic was completed at the chipping facility itself, improving operation and safety on site.

With the data collected and the model refined in great detail, FPInnovations will further update existing business models for salvaging and chipping to provide continues improvement information to both the chipping facility and salvaging operations.

Celebrating Orange Shirt Day at Atli Resources LP

September 30th has been designated as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to give the public a chance to recognize and commemorate the intergenerational harm that residential schools have caused to Indigenous families and communities, and to honour those who have been affected by this injustice.

In recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, September 30 is recognized by the Atli Chip plant as a statutory holiday.

We are grateful to have the opportunity to work with Atli Resources and the Namgis First Nation and to see such a great partnership with one of our newest members, Paper Excellence.

For more information, please contact Christoph Schilling, Indigenous Program Lead at FPInnovations.